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Plane & Simple: A Writer’s Workshop

Erin Henze


On Thursday, July 28, Cam Martin, EAA 536955, will be leading “Plane & Simple: A Writer’s Workshop” at the Hilton Theater in the EAA museum. Scheduled for 8:30 a.m., AirVenture attendees can learn how to write down some of their favorite aviation stories.

Cam Martin, retired NASA public affairs officer and longtime EAA chaplain, has a passion for telling stories. From giving talks at the Smithsonian to leading forums at Oshkosh, Cam believes that telling stories helps keep history alive. And, according to Cam, Oshkosh is just the place to find some great aviation stories.

“Oshkosh is a lot of things, but one of the things that Oshkosh is, is it’s a storytelling machine,” Cam said. “If you’re on the flightline, there’s an announcer and he is describing what you are looking at … there’s storytelling that goes on in the forums, there’s storytelling that goes on in the Theater in the Woods program. Oshkosh is probably the greatest aviation storytelling venue on the planet, for one week a year.”

Many aviators are used to telling stories through hangar flying. However, most of these stories never get written down, told only orally from pilot to pilot. Cam wants to help pilots and aviation enthusiasts get some of these stories written down for future generations.

“Because I’m the EAA’s chaplain, I’m part of the Memorial Wall Sunday event,” Cam said. “In addition to having their name in metal on the wall, there is a photograph of the person and a 500-word biography to acquaint you with, well, who is this person. The biographies come from the families … sometimes are 500 words long with lots of detail, and sometimes, the biographies are one sentence, and that has exhausted what anybody was able to say.”

While family members may try their hardest, some simply don’t know [or] understand the love or have the correct aviation vocabulary to do their loved one justice. And, while many people talk of writing down their life story, many don’t, as it may seem like too daunting of a task.

“They might have a 10,000-page life story, but it’s probably 5,000 two-page bite-sized pieces,” Cam said. “Knowing that people have the desire to do that, my thought was, let’s have a ‘plane’ and simple writer’s workshop.”

According to Cam, the workshop will focus on a pilot’s first solo. However, nonpilots are also encouraged to come.

“You have a story of your first Oshkosh,” Cam said. “You’re here at Oshkosh, you like something about aviation, and have an aviation story someplace. All the best stories have airplanes in them, and all the best airplane stories have people in them.”

So what can you expect to happen at the writer’s workshop? Cam has a variety of instructions and questions to help attendees tell their story, but it always helps to come prepared.

“Bring something to write with and bring something to write on,” Cam said. “Bring something to write about, something to think about, and take some notes with you.”

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